How to Create Engaging Content for Boring Products

The company I work for sells boring products. Dull. Uninspiring. Necessary.

Our products are completely necessary for so many homes, offices, businesses, etc, that I feel fortunate to be a seller of the mundane.

Your company probably sells boring products or services. It’s unlikely you work for Ferrari or Burberry or Nike. Those products basically sell themselves.

No, you’re probably like me and stuck with boring-but-essential.

Bored

Sigh.

I’m often tasked with finding creative ways to write about our products. As we all know, unique content that is interesting, engaging, and relevant is what Google wants these days.

But what the hell is there to write about toilet paper, plastic forks, or wall-mounted soap dispensers? How do I engage the audience who is shopping for toilet bowl cleaners?

Your Audience is the Answer

Consider why your shopper is looking for this particular product. Why would *you* look for this product? Everyone needs toilet paper, but who’s shopping for a case of 72 rolls? Probably someone with a small business who’s looking for a cost-effective, non-sandpaper product.

painful toilet paper

Remember that “engaging” is a relative term. We’re not all writing for Cracked.com.

To that end, think about what engages your reader as they shop for a specific item. My company sells products from Cambro. Cambro makes kitchen containers, largely for restaurants or commercial kitchens (not the home).

Who is doing the shopping for these places? Who’s the person behind the computer at the 15-seat café that needs some new iced tea pitchers? Who manages the deli with sliced meats and cheeses and needs covered plastic containers for the cooler?

Think about the audience that you want to read this, and try to answer their questions. “Easy to clean? Safe for commercial dishwashers?” “Fits standard food pans sizes X, Y, Z” “Pour spouts don’t splash ice into glasses while pouring.”

interesting

I tried to think outside the box when I wrote an article for protective plastic sheeting. I was scraping the bottom of the bucket for ideas when I thought about famous people who use plastic. Like… Dexter!

That gave me the article: Creating a Proper Dexter Kill Room. Satire, obviously, but it ended up being our most-shared, most-discussed article ever.

Creativity is the Hardest Part

Yes, it’s hard to be creative. On my best days I’m only so-so… but that can be enough. Take a step back from your desk and away from the boring widgets you sell. Think about your potential customers and the things they’re trying to solve when they buy your widget. Think about atypical uses for your widgets, whether amusing or pop culture or otherwise.

Literally Everyone Poops, and the guy who wrote that probably made a bundle on it. You can do the same for your company’s widget. Maybe.

“Crappy” Marketing: My Banned Medical Glove Ad

Last year I created (what I thought was) a clever advertisement for Duracell batteries.

The company I work for, ReStockIt.com, sells a ton of different products and one of them is Duracell batteries. What’s more, we have a co-op agreement with Duracell so as a marketer I have extra incentive to try to sell more batteries.

The wiser heads prevailed and it was decided to not use my ad creative, despite the support I received from friends and colleagues.

Well I’m not one for learning on the first go-around, and I decided to create another ad! This time the product is medical gloves.

This one didn’t win support from the C-suite either, but I’m fighting for it! :)

Medical-Gloves---Running-Out-LQ

Also – I know I’m not a wizard at Photoshop. If I’d gotten approval, I would have shipped the concept to someone with a lot more talent!

It was still fun to make, and stay tuned for another one coming soon…

Marketing Yourself: The Online Dating Challenge

I recently signed up for eHarmony in an effort to kick my dating life into gear. My career keeps me busy, and short of a serendipitous encounter at a bar or the beach, I’m probably not going to meet many eligible women in my day-to-day.

Creating a profile is easy enough…answer twenty million questions about yourself and eHarmony will begin sending you matches. Voila!

While I may work in marketing, I hate marketing myself. Or, I hate marketing the non-professional side of me.

I have my elevator speech down pat if I’m at a conference or networking event. I can wax poetic about the benefits of a tightly integrated CMS for eCommerce marketing, or how Google PLA is killing Adwords, but if asked to name what other people first notice about me, I draw blanks.

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Bored Marketing Idea: McDonald’s French Fries

Editor’s note: I originally published this on my old blog (zacksimpson.blogspot.com). I felt like it was still relevant, and brought it over. Please note that since original publication, McDonald’s has adjusted their slogan..

McDonald’s might be the most popular of the bunch, but fast food burger operators know that the quality (and uniqueness) of their french fries will be a motivating force for repeat business.

Who has the best fries? This is a subjective debate. Some prefer McDonald’s, some prefer Burger King, some Wendy’s…etc etc.

What’s not subjective is that feeling the consumer gets when they finish off their fries while waiting at a red light in their car. Remorse. Sadness. Disappointment. Perhaps even frustration that they didn’t opt for a larger size.

But what’s that?!

A couple of fries at the bottom of the bag?! Suddenly there’s JOY and watering of the mouth, as the tongue tingles in anticipation. A little too much for a marketing idea? Psh.

McDonald’s was running an ad on several radio stations in Las Vegas (I’m assuming nationwide, too) in which a woman takes a pickle off a male consumer’s burger. The consumer then launches into a poetic reprimand in which he explains how important each ingredient is to the burger.

People get an emotional attachment to their food, and playing on the heart strings on the “bottom-of-the-bag fries” absolutely triggers an emotional response.

Anyone who has gone through the drive-through of a hamburger fast food joint knows EXACTLY what I’m referring to. It’s like finding money in your pocket that you didn’t know was there!

So with that, I present “A Haiku for Bottom-of-the-Bag Fries”.

I look with sadness,
in your empty paper home.
Joy! Three are still there!

Of course this can be adjusted, made into a song…a short commercial, etc etc.

I’m envisioning a group of young people (ages ~20) in athletic gear sitting around an outdoor basketball court. One of them is scowling while he roots around the bottom of a McDonald’s bag.

Suddenly, his face lights up and with a grin, he pulls his hand out with two fries between his fingers. His friends laugh with him while he puts them in his mouth. Cue “ba da bah bah bah…I’m lovin’ it.”

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Again, I know this is a bit dated as far as the McD’s messaging goes, but it was my most popular post on my old blog, and I still like my haiku. :)

Online Marketing in a Post-Recession World

Editor’s note: I originally published this on my old blog (zacksimpson.blogspot.com). I felt like it was still relevant, and brought it over. I’ve updated some of the copy throughout.

In our post-recession economy, it’s becoming increasingly important to seek efficient, profitable growth and adapt to changing consumer behaviors.

From a marketing standpoint, it’s unlikely that past methods will yield efficient returns on spending. The downturn has fundamentally changed consumer expectations in a lasting way.

Tricks and gimmicks are a thing of the past – replaced with an expectation of product quality and customer service.

These changes in consumer mindset will require online retailers to improve and adapt their efforts across each marketing channel, with a new focus on engagement with the consumer.

Marketers must also increase the efficiency at which they spend their budgets and leverage key technologies to earn consumer loyalty.

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